For years, female litigants in Solano County Family Court have been trying to shed light on systemic disregard and mistreatment of court cases involving credible evidence of domestic violence, physical abuse and sexual assault. The Court has routinely dismissed claims of violence, required women to drop requests for protective orders to proceed with custody matters, and ordered the destruction of evidence highlighting abuse.
Now others in the community are beginning to gain the courage and speak out about what they see. How hard it is to get the Court to assist with matters involving violence, assault and ongoing abuse. How routinely Judges dismiss testimony and evidence. One litigant even had her ex lunge at her, in a violent tirade, IN THE COURTHOUSE and in the presence of numerous court employees, only for the judge to dismiss his actions as someone in need of anger management.
Imagine how emboldened perpetrators of violence become after witnessing that the Judges won’t do anything.
We shouldn’t even have to wonder if a restraining order could have helped save Kenesha Jackson’s life, because it should have been granted, based on the evidence presented during the hearing (which included death threats). The Court should have erred on the side of caution and valued the life of this woman, this black woman. We shouldn’t have to wonder if it was merely her gender or the intersection of her race and gender that made her life so insignificant to Judge Ichikawa.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research:
The data show that:
- More than four in ten Black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetimes. White women, Latinas, and Asian/Pacific Islander women report lower rates.
- Black women also experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse—including humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control—than do women overall.
- Sexual violence affects Black women at high rates. More than 20 percent of Black women are raped during their lifetimes—a higher share than among women overall.
- Black women face a particularly high risk of being killed at the hands of a man. A 2015 Violence Policy Center study finds that Black women were two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than their White counterparts. More than nine in ten Black female victims knew their killers.
We’ve also reported before that Solano County received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the Department of Justice Office On Violence Against Women, to protect victims of domestic violence, yet routinely denied requests for protective orders after hearings.
Judge Ichikawa famously received recognition for Solano County’s (nonexistent) Integrated Domestic Violence Court, yet ordered the destruction of evidence of abuse in at least one case we are aware of (how many more are there?).
When a litigant “follows the rules” and follows law enforcement procedure to get help after being credibly threatened and being a victim of violence, yet the privileged Judge being paid over $200,000 annually in salary and benefits, refuses to have the slightest bit of concern about protecting her working class life, the community has no choice but to let those Judges know that they don’t deserve to serve the Bench.
After the landmark recall of Judge Aron Persky in Santa Clara County, litigants are now gaining confidence that what they cannot remedy through advocacy, they can possibly remedy through the recall process.
A Vallejo man, who faces charges for allegedly murdering the mother of his children and the attempted murder of her boyfriend 21 months ago in Vallejo, returns Friday to a Solano County Superior Court in Vallejo for a hearing and a trial management conference.
Everett Delynn Highbaugh and his attorney will be in Department 2, room 103, Judge Daniel Healy’s courtroom, for the 1:30 p.m. legal proceedings. Highbaugh also faces a jury trial at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 10 in the same courtroom, at 321 Tuolumne St.
Highbaugh, 48 at the time of his arrest on Nov. 23, 2016, is accused of fatally shooting Kenesha Jackson, 36, in the early-morning hours of the same day and wounding Jackson’s male companion in their Virginia Street apartment, where Jackson’s children also lived at the time of the crimes.
Later in the day, Vallejo police arrested Highbaugh at his workplace in Oakland, along the 500 block of Eighth Street, and then booked him into Solano County Jail in Fairfield.
He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges in early December 2016 and remains in jail without bail.
Court records show that, just after midnight on Nov. 23, Vallejo police received reports of a shooting at the Vallejo residence, where they later found Jackson and the male victim. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the male victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of his wounds and survived.
Jackson and Highbaugh’s children were not hurt during the shooting, police said.
The shooting occurred exactly two months after a Solano County Family Court judge, Garry Ichikawa, denied Jackson’s request for a permanent restraining order against Highbaugh, noting that, while Jackson had been the victim of domestic violence, she did not face an imminent threat of death.
Jackson’s friend and co-worker at the state Department of Rehabilitation in Napa, Maria Amador, said Wednesday that she was unsure if a permanent restraining order against Highbaugh would have prevented the deadly violence.
“Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference,” said Amador, a Pittsburg resident. “He was overheated and just didn’t care anymore. Mentally, something was wrong. He probably wouldn’t have cared about the (permanent) restraining order.”
She agreed with victims’ rights advocates who say Jackson’s killing — like so many similar ones and potentially preventable — illustrates how authorities and the California legal system fail women who fear their ex-husbands or former male companions as they begin to separate from them.
“In California, there are a lot of women who are in Kenesha’s situation,” Amador said. “The judges sometimes fail the victims who are crying for help and they don’t get help. That’s what happened to Kenesha.”
As a result of Ichikawa’s 2016 decision in Jackson’s case, he was served with a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition the following year and announced his plans to retire shortly afterward.